FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 11, 2005
Contact: Lindsay Hodges (850) 245-4111
**HURRICANE DENNIS INFORMATION SHEET**
What is a Boil Water Notice?
TALLAHASSEE – Due to flooding and damage caused by
Hurricane Dennis, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) is
advising individuals under a boil water notice to take
precautions against contaminated water, particularly those
with private wells. If your well has been covered with
standing water, your water may contain disease-causing
organisms and may not be safe to drink.
DOH recommends one of the following:
- Boil water before
use, holding it at rolling boil for at least one minute
before using it for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.;
- Disinfect water by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 tsp – this
would form a puddle about the size of a dime) of plain
unscented household bleach per gallon of water, and then let
it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30
minutes, repeat the procedure. Use a container that has a
cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used
for drinking. This will prevent contamination.
- Use bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.
After the flooding subsides:
- Disinfect your well using
the procedures available from your local health department
or provided on the Department of Health at
- Have your water tested by your local health department
or by a laboratory certified by the State to perform a
drinking water analysis.
For further information, please contact your local county
health department or visit
The Florida Emergency Information Line: 1-800-342-3557.
Public Information Emergency Support Function:
-- Commonly Asked Questions Regarding
Boil Water Advisories--
What is the proper way to disinfect my water so that
it is safe to drink?
The preferred method of treatment is boiling. Boiling
water kills harmful bacteria and parasites (freezing will
not disinfect water). Bring water to a full rolling boil for
at least 1 minute to kill most infectious organisms (germs).
For areas without power, disinfect the tap water by adding 8
drops, about 1/8 teaspoon, of plain unscented household
beach per gallon of water and allow the water to stand for
30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, repeat the procedure.
Use a container that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and
storing water to be used for drinking. This will prevent
contamination. If your well was flooded, boiling the water
is the safest action, since disinfection does not kill
How should I wash my hands during a boil water
Based on the current conditions of the affected public
water supplies, vigorous hand washing with soap and your tap
water is safe for basic personal hygiene. If you are washing
your hands to prepare food, if at all possible, you should
use boiled (then cooled) water, disinfected or bottled water
with hand washing soap.
Is potentially contaminated water (where
Cryptosporidium is not the significant contaminant) safe for
washing dishes or clothes?
Yes, if you rinse hand-washed dishes for a minute in a
bleach solution (1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water).
Allow dishes to completely air dry. Most household
dishwashers do not reach the proper temperature to sanitize
It is safe to wash clothes in tap water.
Is potentially contaminated water safe for bathing and
The water may be used for showering, baths, shaving and
washing, so long as care is taken not to swallow or allow
water in eyes or nose or mouth. Children and disabled
individuals should have their bath supervised to ensure
water is not ingested. The time spent bathing should be
minimized. Though the risk of illness is minimal,
individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are
immunosuppressed, or have a chronic illness may want to
consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing until
the advisory is lifted.
How should I wash fruit and vegetables and make ice?
Fruits and vegetables should be washed with boiled (then
cooled water) or bottled water or water sanitized with 8
drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) of unscented household bleach per
gallon of water. Ice should be made with boiled water,
bottled water or sanitized water.
What if I have already consumed potentially
Even if someone has consumed potentially contaminated
water from either a public water system or a private well
before they were aware of the boil water advisory, the
likelihood of becoming ill is low. Anyone experiencing
symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal
cramps, with or without fever, should seek medical
What infectious organisms might be present in
Disease transmission from contaminated water occurs
principally by ingesting water. The major organisms of
concern are protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium,
and bacteria, such as Shigella, E. coli and viruses. These
organisms primarily affect the gastrointestinal system,
causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting
with or without fever. Most of these illnesses are not
usually serious or life threatening except in the elderly,
the very young or those who are immunocompromised.